According to the organizers, unlike the first edition in which the winner (reader of the year), six-year-old Master Gideon Utip Ekong went home with N150,000, in the second edition, the first place kid will smile home with N5 million, while first runner-up or second position kid will get N2 million. The second runner-up or third place winner will be rewarded with N1million. Aside books they will receive as part of the prizes, their schools will also be given volumes of books.
Speaking at a briefing to usher in the take-off of the second edition of the nation’s first Reading House Academy and Reality TV Series in Lagos, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke, decried attitude of students to reading and acknowledged that reading culture was dead in the country. Thus something ought to be done to revive the decline, he said. The minister who was represented by the General Manager of the National Theatre, Mr. Kabir Yusuf, promised that the ministry will encourage authors to write story books on Nigeria for the kids to read while urging television stations to devote more time for educational programmes for children.
Duke lauded the organizers of the project and pledged that his ministry would donate 50,000 books to the star winner, 150,000 books to the school of the winner and 20,000 books to the runners up while 50,000 books would be given out to their schools.
The Producer of the Reading House Academy and Reality TV Series, Mr. Kelvin Otung, noted that reading is one of the fundamental building blocks of education. “Becoming a skilled and adaptable reader enhances the chances of success at school and beyond. Reading is not just for the schools, it is for life,” he said.
According to him, reading makes a child to be thoughtful and constructive contributor to a democratic and cohesive society. “Leading nations,” he added, “pride themselves in promotion of reading because they see a high level of literacy as a major source of their competitiveness and social maturity.” Otung explained further that the absence of a widespread culture of reading as in the case of Nigeria, acts as an effective barrier to the nation’s development and international competitiveness. “It is against this backdrop that we introduced, The Reading House Reality TV project.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Reading House Academy, Mrs. MariaStella Mkpong, told Daily Sun that the project will help to promote reading habit among kids. She then called on government and corporate organizations to partner with them for the feature of Nigerian child.
While 20 pupils were involved in the 2011 edition, they expect more to participate in the project in 2012. She noted that because of growing public response, auditions meant for kids, aged 6-12 years, would be held in Abuja, Lagos, Asaba, Uyo, Port Harcourt and Calabar, starting in August, while the successful kids are expected to spend one month in the house.
Master Gideon Ekong, the first winner of the event held last year in Uyo testified to the transforming impact the reading competition has had on his reading habit and stressed that it will encourage kids to read with ease. “This is important considering the unfortunate belief that reading culture is dying. Children do not read because they don’t see their parents, teachers and other adult read. This is partly responsible for the falling standard of education in Nigeria,” he sadly noted.
His mum, Mrs. Uduak Ekong, a journalist with the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation Television (AKBC-TV), testified that since her son won the Reader of the Year, 2011, he had developed more confidence in reading newspapers and other books and added that “in his school, he is a star and model.”
At the event, the Proprietress of Starland Private School, Ogba, Lagos, Mrs. Elizabeth Olomo-Kefuji, and a training consultant, Mrs. Ken Nwakonta, who hinged the stakeholders’ concern on the decline in the reading habit of Nigerian school kids, expressed their delight at being part of the project.